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Robert Partridge

Page history last edited by sceptrept 14 years, 11 months ago

Dr Robert Partridge is Director of the Careers Service at the University of York. He led the development of the York Award and has successfully managed it since it began in 1998. The York Award is a skills and personal development programme for undergraduate students, which aims to prepare them for the world of work. In 2008 Robert was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in the 'Learning Support Staff' category, encourages students to be inventive in the ways in which they use their time at university, promoting the concept of a learning environment which is unconstrained by classroom walls. He has a great interest in student volunteering and believes that higher education should promote active citizenship. He is using his NTF award to encourage academic staff to offer community-based research projects to final-year undergraduate students, helping them to develop a greater understanding of their subject and its application in the real world.


Students talk about the York Award 

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Facilitating and recognising life-wide learning: the ‘York Award’

Robert Partridge, Director Careers Service, University of York


Oven-ready graduates: a half-baked theory?: In the late nineties, there was much talk of the oven-ready graduate: a ‘professional’, possessing the right combination of ingredients to make a rapid impact in the workplace. Setting aside more fundamental questions about the purpose of HE, economic and pedagogic arguments alone imply that this is a flawed ideal:


1.   The 1998 Coopers and Lybrand report on skills development in HE suggested that it was hardly the place of universities to compensate for the inadequacies of employer induction and training programmes.

2.   Hesketh (2004) reports that employers value ‘creative destruction’ above specific knowledge and skills, and perhaps this is fortunate since

3    some educationalists argue that transferable skills are really not that transferable (for example: Atkins, 1999; Brown, 1999; Eraut, 1994; Knight and Yorke, 2000).


Nonetheless, universities persist in teaching transferable skills on the understanding that these will make students more employable and employers continue to express concern about the gap between graduate skills and employer needs. So perhaps employers are looking for oven-ready graduates after all and, perversely, universities are doing their best to supply them?


The University of York’s solution to this problematic area is to develop an Award Framework to enable learners to identify for themselves the opportunities in their lives for developing and demonstrating achievement of the sorts of skills that are often termed transferable. The York Award is the UK’s leading skills and personal development programme. It has served as the inspiration and model for a growing number of UK and international initiatives and, over the last ten years, it has enjoyed sustained growth in employer engagement and student participation


The session will describe the development and evolution of the York Award, the way it is implemented and reflect on what has been learned since 1998, about the facilitation and recognition of life-wide learning.


Key words:  York Award, transferable skills



Atkins, M. (1999) Oven-ready and self-basting: taking stock of employability skills. Teaching in Higher Education, 4 (2), 267-280.

Brown, C. "Examples of Essential Abilities." Victoria, BC: Centre for Curriculum, Transfer and Technology, 1999. (www.ctt.bc.ca/lo/IDEA/symposium99/Abmodels.html) 

Coopers & Lybrand (1998). Skills Development in Higher Education. Report for the CVCP/DfEE/HEQE,

Eraut, M (1994) Developing Professional Knowledge and Competence Routledge-Falmer Abingdon and New York

Knight, P., & Yorke, M. (2000). Skills plus: Tuning the Undergraduate Curriculum.

Skills Plus Project Report.




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